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Kawasaki VN800 CLASSIC Custom Motorbike Review

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Kawasaki VN800 Classic motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

Strong, reliable and with pretty funky handling for a cruiser, the Kawasaki VN800 makes for a useful bike as well as a perfect pose-machine. Massive, it’s got all the right bits in all the right places giving a good ride with loads of street presence. Not bad value but a bugger to keep clean.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Kawasaki VN800's engine boasts an incredibly smooth and consistent delivery of power. Peak torque’s at around 3000rpm but it’s sustained throughout the range for loads of satisfying pulling power. At the higher end, it’ll cruise happily at 80mph: perfect for a cruiser. Very strong.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Kawasaki VN800’s remarkably stable at high speeds and (for a cruiser) relatively frisky around town. Ground clearance is minimal though. The suspension’s a bit saggy on the corners but comfortable in a straight line whilst the brakes are adequate, if a little weedy. The ride’s not as vibey as some bikes in the class.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3

The Kawasaki VN800 has a very comfortable dual seat and forward pegs give you the look whilst the big, wide bars give you plenty of leverage. The VN has the usual mountains of chrome, fat pipes and tank top instrument panel plus a plethora of outrageous extras you never realised you needed, such as chrome oil filler caps and caliper covers. Lacks the shaft drive of its higher-powered sibling VNs.

Kawasaki VN800 Classic (1996-2004)

Detail Value
Dealer used prices
£3,040 (2003) - £3,300 (2003)
Private used prices
£2,740 (2003) - £2,970 (2003)
  View full used price info
Engine size 805 cc
Power 54 bhp
Top speed 103 mph
Insurance group 10 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 3
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4
Value rating is 4 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Kawasaki VN800 engine’s a superb piece of kit, in it for the long haul and, overall, the bodywork’s made to match it. The paint is rich and gorgeous but decals and logos are of poorer quality plus some of the welding isn’t that great. In other words, it’s not perfect but it’s not half bad, either.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Kawasaki VN800 was well-priced against its rivals (ranging from Harley-Davidson Sportsters to Suzuki’s Marauder and Intruder). Its reliability means it holds its price well but it’s unlikely to compete with a second-hand Harley: that name on a tank adds value, like it or not. Overall? Average to good. Find a Kawasaki VN800 for sale.


Insurance group: 10 of 17

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Model History

1996: VN800 Classic model launched as an updated version of the standard VN800. Only minor changes until it was discontinued in 2004.

Other Versions

Kawasaki VN800: The bike which took over from the old Kawasaki VN750, this one ran from 1995 to 1998. It had different geometry, tyres and gear ratios and a higher seat than the Classic.
Kawasaki VN800 Drifter: Essentially the same as the Classic but with vast swathes of extra bodywork. A styled-up, “Indian” version: pretty OTT. Ran from 1999 to 2004.
Kawasaki VN900: Where the VN800 left off, the VN900 took over. Cubic capacity’s up to 903cc. It was launched in early 2006. See seperate review.


Top speed 103 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 14.4 secs
Max power 54 bhp
Max torque 47 ft-lb
Weight 234 kg
Seat height 705 mm
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Tank range 140 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 10 of 17
Engine size 805 cc
Engine specification 8v V-twin, 5 gears
Frame Steel double cradle
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes 300mm disc
Rear brake Drum
Front tyre size 110/70 x 19
Rear tyre size 140/90 x 16

See all Kawasaki VN800 CLASSIC motorcycles for sale


5600 miles



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17700 miles



15287 miles



11000 miles


Owners' Overall Rating rating is 3.5(1 review)

  • Pleasant surprise


    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Ride and Handling
    Quality and Reliabilty

    This is my first cruiser and therefore really cant compare it to any other cruiser but can add a couple of points to the MCN review . I agree 100% with MCN's review but their fuel consumption figures are NEVER accurate in my expereience . I get 55 mpg under normal everyday use . I purchased this bike for the sole purpose of sedate two-up riding with my partner after getting fed up with feeling like i was doing half a press-up when she was on the back of my VFR and i have to say its an absolute joy to ride two-up . I have a sissy bar on the back so she sits back against that and makes hardly any contact with me at all. I was dubious about the riding position before i tried it but it only takes a few rides before you stop paddling the air trying to find your footpegs and you grow to love the position and relaxed attitude the cruiser-style gives you . Obviously its different to my other bike but not in a negative way .Its fast enough for real-life everyday riding and although the footpegs do ground out earlier than other style of bikes its not an issue under normal everyday riding conditions. You tend to sense when its about to happen and i just take my weight off the peg and let it ride up as it contacts the ground . Its got to the stage now than when i use my VFR for my everyday commute i just wish i was on the VN . I really never thought i would take to this style of bike the way i have . I recently test rode a couple of Harleys and all it did was reaffirm what a nice bike the VN is . The only thing i would change is the soundtrack.......mine has a standard exhaust and is a bit quiet for my taste. If you decide to try a cruiser you might well be pleasantly surprised .

    14 October 2013


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total length

 Haynes manual quotes the overall length as 2390mm (94 inches) and overall height as 1125mm(44.29 inches)

17 October 2013 18:51



Total Length

 Can you tell me what the overall lenght of this bike is please? I'm driving down south on Friday to put it in the van. The van has seats in the rear & need to know if it will fit. Cheers.

15 October 2013 17:42

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